I received an email yesterday from another artist, bemoaning the paltry sums people are willing to pay at local shows and galleries. For your interest and possible edification, here is my reply. If you have any thoughts on the matter do let me know!
“The problem is perceived value. I have to paint to make a living – I produce architectural illustrations (artist’s impressions) for architects and developers, and when times are good(!) I make a very comfortable living. My clients realize that a good illustration will sell the scheme and so they are happy to part with the cash. When it comes to fine art, however, there are very few who would consider paying a decent hourly rate and buy as an investment – it’s more a case of finding something nice and cheap to match the curtains. No consideration is given to the time and effort the poor artist has had to put into it.
I have exhibited in a couple of local shows and galleries and my experience was exactly the same as yours. I have been fortunate, however, in gathering a small cult following who are prepared to pay a reasonable price. Last year I made a record sale of several thousand pounds for a large watercolour, but commissions like that are few and far between…
I’m afraid the only way to really succeed as a professional artist is to exhibit with a prestigious London gallery; there are also a few in the provinces worth a mention, but generally speaking London, sadly, is the place to be.
So in a nutshell, I’m waiting for the building industry to pick up so I can back to illustrating; I can then spend some time painting for fun. Because, in the end, we all paint because we enjoy it – it shouldn’t be about the money.”